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Broken

Broken

The Troubled Past and Uncertain Future of the FBI

The FBI that failed on 9/11 is the creation and captive of its spectacular and controversial past. Its original mission -- the investigation and prosecution of only the most serious crimes against the United States -- was forsaken almost from the beginning. This abandonment of purpose has been accompanied by a long history of political pressure, both from within and without. This sorry and scandal-ridden path culminated in a twenty-five-year run-up to 9/11 in which predictable and preventable lapses became hopelessly entrenched.

In Broken, Richard Gid Powers, one of the country's leading historians of national security and law enforcement, offers a definitive and provocative study of the Bureau from its origins to the present. Combing through the archives, and interviewing more than 100 past and current agents, he unearths stories behind some of the most famous cases and characters in our history. Powers, who attended new-agent training classes at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, was granted access to restricted FBI facilities. His research included visits to the scenes of controversial FBI cases across the country, including Ruby Ridge, Waco, and the Indian reservation at Pine Ridge.

Powers did not set out to write a muckraking attack, and he gives the Bureau its due for many triumphs. Nonetheless, his story features an astonishing range of political abuses, misdirected investigations, skewed priorities, and sheer intelligence failures.

From the Bureau's outrageous participation in the anticommunist Palmer Raids and their successors, to its abuses of civil liberties during the Cold War, to its flagrant acts of domestic political interference during the civil rights era, it has often seemed to be consumed by feuds with such opponents as Harry Truman, Martin Luther King Jr., the Kennedys, and Bill Clinton. With the discovery of turncoat spies within its own ranks, and with the severe intelligence failures of 9/11, the Bureau has finally proven itself incapable of spotting the true enemies of our country within our borders.

Richard Powers's account is a searing indictment of failure, yet it is also strong evidence that the Bureau could be returned to its original mission of detecting the most serious crimes against the United States: terrorism, political corruption, corporate crime, and organized crime. Readers must decide for themselves whether America should mend it or end it.
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  • Free Press | 
  • 528 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416568223 | 
  • June 2007
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